She hired 100 workers to build the three-story 7,500 sqft castle which she designed herself making changes as she went a long (much like William Randolf Hearst and Hearst Castle). No expense was spared- 125 stain glass windows, hand painted wall paper with pastel colored birds, an underground conveyor belt from the street to the kitchen for deliveries, a bathtub shaped like an Indian canoe to pay homage to a Hiawatha poem, one of her favorites. Battlements and rounded turrets. Towers. There was a music room, solarium, library, reading-room, coffee-room, nursery, billiard-room, original Louis XVI drawing room, original Hepplewhite dinning hall, and elaborate maids and chauffeur quarters. There is a three-story winding stairciase. Hand-carved wood work. Later on, when her Chinese cook grew homesick, she commissioned a painting of the Chinese emperor, which she hung over the stove. The castle cost a whopping $500,000 to build.
Hersee and Carson divorced shortly after the castle was finished. They lived there together for only several months. Carson died the next year. He had cut Hersee out of the will. Hersee sued and ended up settling with Carson’s family: six brothers and 15 nieces and nephews in total.
The house became known as the Castle of the Fairy Lady and Hersee as the Fairy Lady. Children from all over wrote her hundreds of letters each year asking for help. Her gifts ranged from grocieries, to pianos to flying lessons. She continued to through big parties for children during the holidays.
Hersee continued her philanthropy, patronizing the arts and planting trees throughout the city. She gave until she had nothing left. Eventually, she retired to Orange County, where she died in 1972 at age 93.
In 1943, the city of Los Angeles bought the castle for delinquent property taxes amounting to $9,000. A former burlesque dancer named Patricia Hogan leased it with her daughter, Tootsie Berry, who turned it into a boarding house.
The city and county subdivided the land, reducing the castle grounds to 2 1/2 acres. In 1946, dentist Manuel H. Haig bought it for $83,000 at auction. But Hogan refused to leave. Sheriff’s deputies ushered her out in 1947, along with her 38 renters. One of them was Roger Price, a gag writer for Bob Hope, The Times reported.
Haig moved in and lived there until his death in 1970.
Other owners and occupants of the castle have included Motown hit maker Barry Gordy, Noah Dietrich, the man Howard Hughes hired to oversee his movie-making empire, and flamboyant divorce lawyer Marvin Mitchelson, who bought it for $1 million in 1980, then later lost it in backruptcy after being convicted of tax faud.